Six Nations 2015

/ Reaction

England 55-35 France, Six Nations
Lancaster hails England's courageousness
Tom Hamilton at Twickenham
March 21, 2015
Anthony Watson scored England's second try © Getty Images
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Stuart Lancaster hailed England's courageousness in the wake of their emphatic victory over France but Andy Farrell bemoaned the small margins which have seen them finish second in the Six Nations for the fourth year running.

Following Ireland's 40-10 win against Scotland England knew they had to beat France by 26 points if they were to end the day as Six Nations champions. There were times at Twickenham when it looked like they were going to do it - an incredible feat considering France had conceded just two tries in their previous four matches - but in the end they fell agonisingly short.

"I want to congratulate Ireland on the championship. I'm sure it was a tense affair for them watching up in Scotland, pretty tense here, if I'm being honest," Lancaster said. "I said to the boys at the end of the game, I've never seen such a courageous performance from a group of players.

"I'm hugely proud of what that England team has shown today and throughout the championship. We've come up short in the end, but the mindset to play and the ability to go and keep going at a high-quality French team and score the tries that we did was a testament to the spirit and character that we've got. Also backed up by 82,000 people in a sporting environment that I've never been in before. It was incredible."

England will now look at the moments where the title slipped out of their grasp - the disallowed try at the end of the match in Dublin, the squandered chances against Scotland. For Farrell, those are the aspects England need to tighten up as they head ever closer to the World Cup.

"We're sat here disappointed because we've not won the championship by six points," Farrell said. "In a championship, especially the big one coming up, every point matters. Whether it be a forward pass or a penalty along the way, throughout the competition itself, it's all crucial.

"We've got to be on it and clinical every single time. Throughout the competition we were guilty of lapses of concentration for 10, 15 minutes, here there and everywhere, especially against Italy and Scotland and ultimately it cost us."

But despite the lapses, Farrell was delighted with England's performance and singled out Billy Vunipola for praise. "That performance today. It was outstanding. You can't get away from that. Good and bad, but absolutely outstanding as well The belief and the lessons learned that we'll get from that game will be second to none.

"We keep saying it - and it isn't an excuse - some of these lads have got to go through it. It's an absolute fact that the likes of George Ford, Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson, they have to go through it before it comes to the competition that we know is going to be an outstanding competition here in England.

"It's going to blow everyone's minds and we have to feel what it's like to be under pressure and those lads have to feel it. While I'm on, can I just say, Billy Vunipola what a series, what a man, outstanding."

Lancaster will now turn his attention to the World Cup. He is looking to those currently sidelined to press their claims for spots in the squad and name-checked Joe Launchbury, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt and Ben Morgan and he too pressed the need for better execution.

"What we've got to be is more consistent over the full 80 to win a tournament like this or to win a World Cup. There's a long time to go between now and September. We'll work hard in June when we meet in camp and we'll be ready when September comes around."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.
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